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Thread: Please Help Set Us Free!

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  1. Default Please Help Set Us Free! 
    #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    65
    Please Help Set Us Free!

    As an entrepreneur, I look for ways to buy and sell distressed properties through on-line auctions. I can pick the state, city and many times the street for just the right property that shows potential. Sometimes I made an excellent profit, while other times I was lucky to break even. I always try to do a quick turnover. So when I saw the photos of one particular property in Lodi, California, the lot size and true market value, including delinquent taxes owed, I chose to bid on it.

    On-line auctions for properties are peculiar. On the one hand, one might think few would be interested and 15 place bids. On the other hand, you feel many will try to buy a particular parcel and no one does. In my case on that hot summer afternoon, I was one of three bidders for the condemned house on a narrow lot in a nice neighborhood. In the end, my bid turned out the highest. Within 10 days, all the escrow documents had been faxed to a title company in Lodi and I initialed or signed as usual, like a movie star signing autographs.

    Prior to escrow, I drove to 946 Pine Avenue and parked. I got out and walked to the middle of the street and looked directly at the boarded up house. Then I stood on the sidewalk to the left and then to the right of the house. I had an eye for visually being able to see what such a lot could look like once cleared. There was a huge green shrub by the sidewalk and two smaller ones to the right of the porch. As I walked around the house, I observed that all of the windows and doors had been boarded up.
    What I thought was peculiar though was the thickness of the plywood and size of nails. The plywood was thick and the nails, well, they were way too large. I wondered why they had gone to the unnecessary expense to board the house up. Later, I would find the answers to that question and many more, in the basement of the house. Iíd embark on a quest to save the souls of children stolen and killed by a demonic spirit from another world.

    I would not only fight to save their souls, but fight for my own soul as well. Finally, I got a call on my cell-phone from the Placer Title Company, informing me the documents were ready to be signed. I stopped at my bank and got the Cashierís check and drove to their office. As I left the realty office with the folder of documents, I felt good. The property was in a good location to build a house or duplex. I wasnít one to be greedy or charge a fortune for what I bought, quite the contrary.

    I offered a good lot for a fair price, allowing families to have what they once dreamed was not within their reach. I drove over to Pine Avenue to take a look at the property more closely this time. I made sure I brought a large hammer, a flash light and a crow bar to gain entry to see what was inside. When I got there, I parked in front of the house, locked the car door and opened the trunk and picked up the crow bar.

    I looked at nearby houses as I stood on the sidewalk to get an idea of the size and style of houses in this neighborhood. Thatís when I saw a woman staring at me from her window. Her eyes were angry, yet sad as I watched her close the white curtain. Then, to my surprise, she stepped out onto her front porch, closing her door behind her. She was a tall but thin woman in her 70ís with long flowing white hair.

    She walked hurriedly toward me, but with a limp. The cane in her right hand tapping the concrete as she came closer, told me that she must have had a fall sometime in the past. When she was about six feet from me, she stopped as I looked into her deep blue eyes. Her voice had an Irish accent and a foreboding warning. ďExcuse me sir, you arenít going to work on that old place are you?Ē she asked. ďNo míam. Iím not here to do any work, I just bought this property and I plan to tear it down.

    Iím just going to see what shape itís in inside.Ē I told her. ďNo, you mustnít.Ē she said frantically. ďYou mustnít! Death and misery lingers in that house. You mustnít disturb the evil that lives within its walls.Ē she pleaded, almost hysterical. Her comments were so off the wall and unexpected, I almost laughed. ďEvil, death, what are you talking about? Youíve got me more than confused.Ē I told her. She motioned me to follow her as she backed up further away from the house.

    ďIím telling you the gospel truth sir. I tell you thereís a demonís spirit in that house and with him he keeps the souls of the children he has killed.Ē she said in a frightened voice. The look on my face was one of total astonishment. ďHow do you know that? Where did you read that?Ē I asked her. Suddenly her face grew white and very pale as she fought to take in a breath. Her hand holding her cane was shaking and I thought she was about to fall to the ground.

    But she didnít fall. She gave me a look of determination and replied, ďI know things that no one knows. Things that would make you go insane, if only you knew. Please I beg you, if you value your life, donít enter that house. If you do, I fear youíll not come back out alive. Leave this place now.Ē she said. With those words, she turned and hurriedly limped back to her house and closed the door behind her.

    I don't know how long I just stood there, looking at the old lady's window, wondering if sheíd return to it, to see what I would do. Finally, I looked down and picked up my flashlight. I closed the trunk and made my way to the front of the boarded up house. After setting down my flashlight, I jammed the crow bar between the wall and the plywood and pushed hard. It wasn't a surprise to see that the nails didn't budge, not a bit. Again and again I tried to no avail. With sweat running off my face, I finally gave up and went to the back of the house, to pry open the rear door.

    If that too failed, Iíd just have to try each window. Something kept knawing at the back of my mind. Why would someone use such heavy wood to board up an old house? What were they trying to keep out? Then my thoughts turned to what the white haired lady I encountered. Was there any truth that something evil was lurking inside? Was the plywood meant to keep something in not keep someone out?

    I wasn't one to buy into ghosts and the supernatural, that's for Hollywood director's to entertain us, but not in real life. Demons per se simply don't exist. Towards the bottom corner of the door, the nail began to pull away from the wall as I strained with the crow bar. Once loose, it was just a matter of working my way up the plywood, a little at a time. Finally, with my shirt soaked in sweat, I tossed the crowbar to the ground.

    With both hands, I put my muscles to work and pulled and pulled. As the plywood broke free I stumbled backwards and almost fell to the ground. As the sheet of plywood fell to the ground, a horrible smell of something rotting filled my senses. I felt my knees buckle as I reached out to hold the door frame. I had never smelled such a sickening smell in my life. I couldn't even describe it. There must be a dead animal inside I told myself. What else could it be?

    I moved away from the door way to take a breath of fresh air. All I could see from a distance was darkness beyond the doorway. Looking back, I realize now that I shouldnít have gone inside, but my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know. I wanted to know what was causing that awful smell. I wanted to know why the lady next door was afraid and why she didnít want me to go inside. What did she know and how did she know?

    Or was she just an old womanís delusions? Perhaps she had mental problems. In any event, I pulled my T-shirt over my nose and mouth, took in a deep breath and with flash light in hand, walked towards the doorway. I can't say if the open door allowed fresh air inside or the odor out, but for me, the smell seemed more tolerable. I turned the flashlight on and stepped inside. It was black, the blackest black I had ever known or sensed.

    I was standing in the kitchen portion of the house. Everything was in chaos, as if someone had gone on a rampage. Everything was torn off the walls. Pieces of cabinet lay everywhere on the floor shattered. The green metal dining table was twisted and chairs were missing legs. The pipe that went to the sink was thrust into the wall next to a boarded up window. There was a heavy layer of dust everywhere.

    The smell of musty mold was strong. I made my way carefully through the debris, leaving the comfort of the outside daylight, and entered the world of darkness. Suddenly everything became darker and darker. It was as if the darkness was choking the light from my flashlight. I now stood in what I felt was the large living room. The brown carpet was crumpled up, as if someone or something had been trying to rip it up, to get under the floor.

    The walls had marks, claw like marks I swear. I moved closer and held my flashlight close to the wall and put my hand to the wall. They were so eerie to look at. Something had been clawing at the wall; there couldnít be any other explanation. But whatever hand clawed the wall had much larger hands then I did. Suddenly, I heard a noise to my right. Behind me footsteps were kicking debris out of the way. My heart was racing like the wind and the hair was standing up on the back of my neck.

    I turned around and faced the doorway leading outside and to my horror I heard a thunderous roar. It was if something had exploded and there was total darkness. Shivers went up and down my spine as I realized that the plywood was now back across the door way. The sounds of footsteps were growing closer and anxiously I faced the direction of the sounds and aimed my flashlight into the darkness to see what I could see.

    It was at that moment that I dropped my flashlight when I saw him or rather it. It was a hideous creature with blue skin and crooked teeth, wearing a velvet cloak. Suddenly, I realized that he was what the old woman had warned me about. This was what was sealed within these walls. I screamed as I put my hands to my face. Above the demon swirled the tortured faces of children as they screamed in anguish, "Please help set us free!"

    I was afraid. Too afraid to speak or run. Before I knew what was happening, the cloaked creature stood before me. There was confidence in his eyes and I felt totally helpless and he knew it. With the swish of one hand, I felt claws rip across my chest, tearing into my skin as I cried out in pain. I clutched my chest as blood spurted between my fingers and I felt my knees buckle. Suddenly, the demon was struck with a bolt of light that illuminated the room.

    He shuddered, turned and faced the woman who I had spoken with at the sidewalk. In one hand she held a sort of staff and the tip glowed a fiery red. Her other hand was held up as if it was meant to stop him from attacking me. She spoke in a language I didnít understand and before I could look back, he uttered a savage growl and raced down the hall in front of me, back into the darkness. The spirits of the children began to fade into the blackness, but not before they begged me once again to help them.

    Blackness was now closing all around me when I felt someone pull my arm up and lead me out of the house. It was the old woman and as we walked, with fear in her voice, she spoke. "We must leave this place of evil. We must step out into the light!" she said desperately. Once outside, she helped me to her house and we walked through her back door. She took me to a room that was looked like a scene out of a Lord Of The Rings movie.

    She sat me down in the only chair in the room, its arms carved in the shape of eagleís claws. I looked up at shelves made from very old wood, lined with jars large and small of potions, creatures and herbs. Her back was to me as she opened a book with yellowed, fragile pages. When she found the page she sought, I heard her say, "There it is." Then she went to the shelves and approached me with some sort of stone.

    She leaned me farther back in the chair and placed the stone on my wounds and placed my hand upon the stone. "Keep the stone against the cuts!" she said urgently. Then she recited things I had never known or heard of before." When she was finished, she looked down at me with kind, but tired eyes and her hand removed my hand from the stone. She held the stone in her hand and with her other hand, she moved my torn shirt. To my astonishment, my injuries had healed.

    Besides my torn, blood stained shirt, only five long scars remained on my chest from the creatures claws. She walked away and placed the stone back on the shelf, turned and with hesitation in her voice asked me a question. "Iíve done what I can to save your life. Now I must ask you a question. Do you have the courage to save the souls of untold children from centuries past, or do you have the fear to leave and never return?Ē she asked in a compassioned voice.

    ďBefore you answer, let me tell you a story. Long ago in another world, there was a powerful demon who ruled the underworld. He grew so powerful; he nearly took over this world. He found a way to create a doorway into your world. Iím the last of the ancient ones, who stands guard at this place. Iím the only thing standing between him and the death of your world. But Iíve grown old and so weary. Itís only a matter of time before he fears me no more and confronts me.

    When that time comes, I know, I too shall die. No one will be left to maintain that balance between good and evil. Youíre the first to enter the darkness of his world. For the moment, he canít leave the prison he is contained in. He canít leave that house, but I don't know for how much longer I can hold him back. As you were attacked, the souls of children cried out to you, to help release them. If you choose to leave now, I will not stop you.

    But if you choose to join me and send him back to the world of the undead, I will prepare you to overcome things you dared to believe could exist. I will tell you what must be done and I will protect you as best I can. The rest will be up to you." she said with sadness. Everything in this room told me, this was no dream, no illusion. "If you canít defeat that demon, how can I?Ē I asked the old woman. ďI will help you, but I donít know what I can do." I told her.

    I saw a look of hope within her eyes at that moment. "Youíre strong of spirit, of kindness and the light within you shines brightly. I can see the light. Evil will always fear the light and seek to destroy it. I can make a potion for you to drink that will allow you to be as strong as I once was. I can also give to you a special amulet called, The Magic Circle Of Solomon. It will protect you from evil. I will bless you with the shadow spell that will allow you to travel in his world unnoticed by his dark warriors.Ē she told me.

    She walked over to a long intricately carved wood staff and upon it was a beautiful red stone with many facets. ďThis staff has an ancient amulet on it and is called the Circle of Protection. If youíre confronted by evil on your journey, make a circle around you with the end of the staff. Evil will not be able to harm you as long as you remain within the circle. In the demon's world are the remains of a church in a ghostly swamp.

    You will find among the ruins an archway with a wooden box there. To release the souls of the children he has killed, you must remove and bring back the stone amulet you find inside. You must return to the doorway on this side of his world and destroy the doorway, forever trapping him in his world. By destroying the wall, you will also have released all those souls he has held captive in darkness, forever tortured.

    Walk with me and I will show you the doorway." she said. She lit a torch and we went back to the boarded up house. When we reached the basement doorway, I saw the door had been shattered into tooth pick size splinters. With her staff in the other hand, we walked down the steps. The basement was totally empty and I saw no doorway, only a stone wall. The stones looked as old as time itself and were the color of black and grey.

    She stopped in front of the wall and placed her hand through the stone, to show me that is was indeed, a type of doorway. "This is where you must pass to enter his world. Come, we must leave and go back upstairs, to prepare you for what must be done. I fear we donít have much time." she told me with nervousness. I saw her take a deep breath and with tired eyes, she turned and I followed her back upstairs. She returned to her book, a book of spells I guess it was called.
     

  2. Default Please Set Us Free! 
    #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    65
    When she had finished reciting the words with her right hand on my shoulder, she handed me the amulet necklace. I placed it around my neck. Then she handed me the staff with one desperate plea. ďThe demon must not take this from you. If he does, you will die horribly and you will be forever trapped in his world. Iíve done all I can do to protect you and you know what you must do. Take this staff and go quickly. Find the stone in the box under the stone archway of the church and return to the wall.

    You must destroy the wall in the basement when you return. Only by destroying the wall, will you trap the demon in his world for eternity and set the souls of children free. Once the stone wall has been destroyed, scatter the stones in as many locations and as far apart from each other as you can so they were never be used to rebuild the wall.Ē she told me. We left her house and when we reached the back door of the boarded house I stopped and picked up my crow bar.

    I knew I needed something to break apart the old stones of the basement wall when and if I returned. As we made our way through the darkness of the house I saw the light of my flashlight and picked it up. In a few moments, we were standing at the stone wall and I laid my flashlight and crow bar down. I can't describe the fear and uncertainty I felt at that moment. In the light of her torch she saw it too. "Remember what I said.

    If youíre in danger, make a circle in the ground with this end of the staff. Move quickly within his world. Make no noise as you walk. You will remain as a shadow to the creatures that lurk there and do his bidding." she whispered. Seeking reassurance, I asked the old woman, "You'll be here waiting for me to return won't you?Ē I asked nervously. With sadness in her eyes, she shook her head and in a soft voice she replied, No, I wonít be here, for my time has come to die.

    Iím so glad I was able to give to you the task of protecting your world, before I die." she said with sadness. With those words echoing within the basement walls, she vanished before my eyes. Now, it was up to me. As I stood before the ancient stone wall, I could feel myself tremble. A thousand questions raced through my mind and I had no answers. The old woman had vanished and I didnít think she was coming back.

    In fact, I believed she had died. And me? I was a stranger who stumbled onto a war. A war of good against evil and it appeared the final card was about to be played, but to what end? I was no hero. Nor was I brave and I knew what was about to take place would take all the courage within me. I knew I was unprepared to face the unimaginable on the other side of this wall. What was so terrifying was I didnít know what was on the other side and worse, I wasnít sure I would know how to come back.

    That was of course, if I lived. I sensed the urgency to begin my journey and reached up and rubbed by fingers against the amulet the old woman had given me. Then I gripped the staff in my right hand and begin to walk through the stone wall. I wish I could describe what it felt like to walk through stone, but I can find no words. When I came out on the other side, I found myself in a swampy forest. Up ahead were the stone ruins of a very old church.

    Very little of it remained though. It looked like it had been blown up, yet the explosion had to have been from inside the church. Judging from the immense weight of the stone blocks scattered everywhere, I couldnít imagine what would cause such a tremendous explosion. The front wall of the church remained, with a cross resting on top. The stone steps descended into the murky waters of the swamp. I thought it very odd that people would build a church in a swamp of all places.

    I looked up and couldnít see sky, only grey clouds. The smell in the air was that of rotting flesh. The waters were brown and now and then I could see the ripples of something under the surface swimming past. I had no intention of stepping into the water. Through the trees, I barely could see the rear of the church building and the archway the white haired lady had spoken of. That was my destination.

    I wondered as I stepped through the grass, if I had passed through time and was now in medieval times? Could it be that I had went back in time to the days of knights and castles? It was at that moment of distraction that I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the most anguished scream. The sound was so loud, it was deafening. The sound seemed to come from everywhere at once. Then I saw them. They were neither human, nor beast, yet part of both.

    They walked like a man, but they were slow, holding swords, in clawed hands. Their skin was dark grey and their eyes sunken. I stood still, held my ground and gripped the staff tightly. I remembered what the old woman had said before she vanished, for me to draw a circle around me with the staff, if I was in danger, but I didnít move. I felt that if I moved, they would hear me and I was a long ways from the arch. All I could do was watch them as they walked in my direction.

    They walked perhaps 15 feet apart and were searching for something or someone. Did they know I was here or why? Then I remembered what the woman had said about the spell she had cast. The shadow spell. Yes! Thatís what she had called it. She said that I would be able to walk in this world unnoticed. Rather than walk and make noise and see if she was right, I stood still. Besides the staff, she had given me no weapons.

    In a few minutes both creatures passed by me, one on each side and neither looked like they had seen me. I felt sweat running down my face. I knew they would have killed me had they seen me, they were that close. I waited until they were well past me. Ever so carefully I made my way through the tall grey grass, doing my best to step over dried limbs and anything else that might snap.

    I chose to climb onto the moss covered steps of the church, where it was quieter. The sides of the church had huge scattered stone blocks with brush growing all around them. I stood in the doorway of what would have been the front door. But there was no door. All that was left were the ancient hinges that were twisted, as if the door had literally been ripped off the hinges with tremendous strength.

    Yet the hinges were bent and twisted inward, meaning whatever ripped off the door had once stood on the outside of the church. Judging from the size of the hinges, the door must have weighed a ton. I took one more look back because the hair was standing on the back of my neck, but I saw nothing. Besides a huge cave like crater hole in the stone floor ahead of me, nothing remained but scattered pieces of stone debris.

    Up ahead, maybe 100 feet was the stone archway I was looking for. I could see on the ground a large, heavy wooden chest. When I reached the chest, I saw that it was intricately carved with words and symbols, neither of which I understood. The hinges were brass or were they gold? Either way, they showed no sign of tarnish, even as old of a place as this place was. That was when I noticed the lock. The woman who had healed me and guided me to this place didnít say the box would have a lock.

    She had given me no key. What was I to do? There was a heavy wide leather strap on both sides of the chest. I tried to lift one side up, but it weighed too much. I hadnít planned on taking the chest back with me anyway. She had told me to remove the stone and bring it back to my world and destroy the stone wall. The longer I stood there, the more uneasy I became. Just on the off chance the lock was no good, I lifted it up and twisted it, but saw it was a very strong lock.

    I knew there was only one thing I could do. I had to use a piece of stone at my feet to break the lock off. I didnít like that idea at all. Whatever was in this world that was guarding this box, would also know someone was here. Iím sure the two creatures I had seen earlier would come to investigate. Not to mention the demon who had attacked me. Sometimes, when youíre the most scared, itís also the moment you find the courage to do what must be done.

    I sat the staff down and lifted the heaviest stone I could lift, which had a sharp edge to it. With all my strength, I threw it down and barely missed the lock and jumped back as the stone hit the floor. The sound seemed to echo like a hand grenade. I desperately grabbed the edges of the stone again and threw it at the lock once more.
    This time I hit the lock dead center and the bottom half of the lock fell to the floor. Anxiously, I knelt down and flipped the hasp and with both hands I lifted the lid.

    The voices of a thousand childrenís voices swirled around me, all crying out, ďPlease help set us free!Ē Lying on top of a velvet cloth with gold braids was an unbelievably beautiful turquoise blue stone. It had the same shape as the stone amulet on top of my staff but it was larger. Its turquoise blue color was almost transparent. I had never seen something so beautiful. Thatís when I heard the sounds of terror fill my senses.

    I grabbed the stone in one hand and placed it in my pocket, picked up the staff and stood up. As I spun around, I was facing not two, but four of the creatures, each holding a sword. They had no eyes that I could see, but it was clear they were walking right toward the box. The problem was I was in front of the box. In less time than it could take to blink, I stepped aside and rubbed the end of the staff around the floor in a circle.

    I now held both hands on the staff like a spear and waited. One creature reached the box first and moved the velvet cloth, then picked up the broken lock as the other three arrived The scream I heard next was so blood curdling that I thought my heart would stop. Evidently the shadow spell had done exactly what the woman said it would do. They couldnít see me. But the one who looked or acted like the leader sensed something.

    Something the others hadnít. He was the closest to me and just a couple of feet away. Perhaps it was the magic of the Circle of Protection. Perhaps it was the amulet around my neck, The Magic Circle of Solomon. Perhaps it was the scent of my being human. Whatever it was, all hell was about to break loose. One never realizes whether you will be brave or afraid until faced in a life and death situation. Will you hesitate or act with courage?

    For me, at that moment, I acted with courage, not knowing what would happen. I used the staff as a spear and thrust it deeply into the creature nearest me and pulled it out. He screamed as his body exploded into a million flashes of light. I thrust the amulet on the staff into the second one and he too vanished in anguished screams. The other two, who I considered the walking dead, were farther away.
     

  3. Default Please Help Set Us Free! Conclusion 
    #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
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    Though they couldnít see me, they were swinging their swords as if I were within their swords blades. They were frightened, but making their way closer to me, attacking the air, like a process of elimination. Their plan was to kill what they couldnít see. I was scared, no, I was terrified. I didnít know what would happen if I stepped out of the Circle of Protection I had made around me with the staff. Would it really protect me?

    I wanted to step outside the circle and attack them. I wanted to kill them and run back to the stone wall and flee. But I fought that fear and stayed inside the circle. I could only wait and I didnít have to wait long. When the blade sliced through the air and reached the circle, he fell to his knees and burst into flames. Oh my God, what a horrible smell he made. Only one creature remained and he began to retreat, walking backwards slowly as he snarled as if to intimidate that which they couldnít see.

    I followed him at a distance, quickly looking to my left, then right and then backwards. I watched him as he descended the steps and entered the swamp and in seconds, I couldnít see him anymore. I knew where I was headed. Only this time I didnít walk slow or carefully. This time, I ran. I didnít care who heard me. When I reached the spot where I was sure the wall had been, I stopped dead in my tracks. As far as I could see was swamp.

    I looked left and right, then back at the church. This was the place I was sure of it but where had the wall gone? I was shaking, shaking as if my life depended on finding the wall and believe me it did. It was at that moment that I heard a childís voice to my right. There at the top of a v-sloped hill, I saw a round glass object with a thousand facets of bright light within it.

    ďPlease donít be afraid. Youíre very brave to come here to fight the evil that keeps our souls locked in this place of torment and darkness. The wall you seek is behind you. Use the staff and it will be revealed. Go quickly, destroy the wall and help set us free!Ē the childís voice said urgently. Suddenly the brilliant light faded and was gone. My heart ached for all who were trapped here and I felt a tear fall from my cheek as I turned and held out the staff in front of me.

    As if it had always been there, the stone wall appeared. That was when I froze in my tracks. The demon who had attacked me in the house now stood between me and the wall. I had no choice now but to fight him, perhaps to my death. As the demon stared defiantly at me, his voice sneered with a tone of futility, of helplessness and finality. "You will never leave this place. Your soul is mine!Ē he shouted.

    As he spoke those words, above me black clouds swirled and formed the shape of evil face. ďYou have something that belongs to me and you have something I want!" he shouted. I watched him as he held his gaze upon the staff in my hand. "If you give me both, I shall let you pass. But if you refuse, then I shall take them both!" he shouted. The sound of his words resounded like thunder in my ears.

    The ground began to shake as if it was an earthquake, as I tried to maintain my balance. Suddenly, I heard the splashing of water and I saw four of his followers step out onto the grassy soil behind me. "Be gone." he roared. ďThis mortal is mine.Ē and they cowered and retreated to the brownish murky waters of the swamp. For what seemed like eternity we stared at each other, neither moving nor speaking.

    Then, with a comical smile, he raised his clawed hand and brushed it against his velvet cloak. "What shall your answer be?" he shouted. I strengthened my grip on the staff and stamped the ground with it and suddenly the red amulet atop of the staff turned incredibly bright. I don't know who was more surprised, the demon or me. "I see the ancient one has taught you well.Ē he sneered, ďBut she hasnít taught you enough.

    I sense the amulet worn under your shirt and I also sense she is dead. No one is here to help you defeat me. Give me the staff!" he ordered. But I stood my ground and shook my head no. I knew if I did as he demanded I was good as dead. If he had the power to easily take the staff away from me, he would have done so before now. I sensed it. I knew it. The wall was about eight feet behind him and I knew he wouldnít step aside.

    In the midst of terror, a terror I had never felt before, I found somehow, a piece of courage. "If you want what I possess, youíll have to take it from me." I shouted as strongly as I could muster with my voice. In a split seconds blink of an eye, he motioned his left arm towards me and suddenly I was surrounded by the sound of electricity and I could feel the heat of fire, but it wasnít burning me. Nor was I knocked off my feet.

    I felt that the amulet and the staff were protecting me. With nothing to lose, I stamped the staff in the ground a second time and I destroyed that which was trying to destroy me. I can't describe the frustration I saw in the demon's eyes. He looked like he wanted to rip me to pieces. Then the sky thundered with the anguished screams of all the children's souls that he had taken for centuries, echoing the same plea, "Please help set us free!"

    The demon was looking uneasy, his power over me wasnít as great as he had imagined and he knew he couldn't easily kill me. Then he did something I never expected him to do. He began to come closer to me. He stood an armís length away from me, before he stopped, but made no effort to strike me. His bluish skin was leathery and his jagged teeth disgusted me. "I know your thoughts." he sneered, "I know your fears. You think you will take their souls and leave.

    How wrong you are!Ē he shouted. Suddenly, behind him a cloaked young woman appeared in front of the wall behind the demon. She too wore the same velvet cloak but was beautiful. Her eyes revealed a confidence that told me she was here to help me, not hurt me. The demon sensed her presence and whirled around to face her. "It cannot be! Daughter, I sensed your death." he told the woman.

    She walked towards him and then past him until she stood beside me and placed her hand around the staff above my hand. Her eyes offered me assurance that she was in truth, the old woman who I had first encountered on the sidewalk. She was no longer old and weak, but strong. I released my grip and she turned and faced her father. ďYou will not harm this human father. You shall let him pass. In return, I will stay in this world with you!" she told him.

    He seemed pleased and waved his arm to me encourage me to walk towards the wall. With hesitation, I looked at the woman and she nodded and I saw a smile in her eyes. As I passed her, she whispered under her breath, "Do as I instructed you do!" When I reached the wall, there was sadness in her eyes as she said, "Go now!" I passed through the wall and felt down for my flashlight and turned it on.

    I then picked up the crow bar and frantically began to break the wall down stone by stone. Sweat poured down my face and dust was in my eyes as I struggled to finish my task. When I reached down and tossed the last of the ancient stones aside, the basement echoed with the sounds of children's voices. Their voices were no longer tormented, but joyful. The room became bright with their spirits as over and over little one's thanked me.

    Suddenly one child with long brown hair appeared before me. With sadness, she whispered, "You were brave, so very brave. You risked your life to free all of us and we thank you. Youíve trapped the demon in his world, never to steal another child's soul. But in doing so, you trapped also his daughter to spend eternity with the one she grew up to hate. But I bring to you, from her, a message she gave to me." the child said.

    "Be not sad for me, for your kindness will never be forgotten for all my remaining days. You cared more for others then you did yourself. Others in your world will see that kindness and you will be blessed. Take away the stones at your feet and scatter them far from each other so they will never be assembled again!" the child said. There were tears in the child's eyes as well as mine as she hugged me tightly.

    Then she looked up and whispered, "I must go and join the others.Ē and as she waved goodbye, she slowly became the brightest of lights and vanished. I spent the rest of that day loading the old stones into my one ton dually truck. I finished just before the sun went down. In the morning I would scatter stones as far away from each other as I could, so no one could ever re-build the wall again and let the demon take another soul.

    I chose to dump some of the heavy stones in three different lakes as well as on land. I felt sad that the old woman, his daughter now was trapped with someone so mean, so hateful and evil for the rest of her life. She was a beautiful woman. I was glad I met her and for the rest of my life I would wear the amulet she gave me.

    ©2006 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)
     

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